Brazil’s Ministry of Health released its latest data on the “outbreak” of microcephaly in that nation. From October through March 19, 2016, the Ministry has received 6,671 reports of children born with microcephaly. Nearly 36 percent of those cases have been investigated.
The Brazilians are taking their time investigating the thousands of reports. As of March 19, 2,378 have been examined and an astonishing total of 1,471 have been rejected as incorrectly diagnosed. That is a discard rate of 61.86 percent. That rate has remained fairly stable since the investigations were first reported for Jan. 23, between a high of 63.7 percent on Jan. 30 to a low of 61.13 percent on March 12.
The northeast continues to be the focal point for the “outbreak” of reports. Three states account for 54 percent of the national total, Bahia, Paraíba and Pernambuco. Pernambuco has reported 1,819, 27 percent of the national total. Bahia has reported 960 cases and Paraíba has reported 842. The fourth highest total is from Ceará, with a distant 417 reports.
This week’s data from Brazil states that 122 of the 907 confirmed cases of microcephaly have tested positive for antibodies from a Zika viral illness. The Ministry states that this figure does not truly represent the number of cases related to Zika and that most confirmed cases should be considered related. They offer no reason for this statement. The Ministry says that 23 states have reported Zika in circulation.
There has been no confirmation of the hypothesis that a Zika infection in a pregnant mother can cause injury to the unborn child. Correlation does not equal causation. There does appear to be some evidence that a Zika viral illness can be followed by a rare immune disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome.